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Crime and Punishment | Study Guide

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Part 4, Chapters 2–3

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Part 4, Chapters 2–3 of Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel Crime and Punishment.

Crime and Punishment | Part 4, Chapters 2–3 | Summary



Part 4, Chapter 2

Razumihin and Raskolnikov go to Dounia's and Pulcheria's apartment. Luzhin is unhappy to find Raskolnikov there in violation of his request. In passing Luzhin describes a rape and two brutal deaths attributed to Svidrigaïlov, although evidence against him remains inconclusive. Raskolnikov announces that Svidrigaïlov has been to see him and that Marfa Petrovna has left Dounia money.

Dounia explains that she asked her brother to attend the meeting. She wants to hear both his and Luzhin's sides and judge fairly. If Raskolnikov has insulted Luzhin, Dounia will make him apologize. She appeals to the good in Luzhin's nature to make peace with her brother. Luzhin is offended that Dounia considers choosing her brother over him.

Pulcheria confronts Luzhin with the lies in his letter about her son giving money to Sonia, but he denies them. Luzhin assumes the women are defying him because they now have money of their own, revealing that Raskolnikov was right about him. Dounia sends Luzhin away, breaking their engagement. Luzhin claims that she should be grateful he wanted to marry her at all and that he regrets the money he's spent on her. He leaves feeling "vindictive hatred" for Raskolnikov.

Part 4, Chapter 3

Raskolnikov tells Dounia that Svidrigaïlov's wants to meet her and give her money, but it frightens her. Razumihin lays out a plan for him, Raskolnikov, and Dounia to go into publishing together using some of the money Dounia inherited from Marfa Petrovna. Raskolnikov supports the idea.

But his conscience gets the better of him. He suddenly declares that he wants to separate from his mother and sister. He asks them to leave him alone or he will hate them, which upsets his mother. His sister calls him a "wicked, heartless egoist," but Razumihin reminds her that her brother is crazy, not heartless.

Raskolnikov implies that they are all better off without him, saying he will come back at some point, but he doesn't give specifics. He tells Razumihin to "always" take care of Dounia and Pulcheria. Raskolnikov stares at his friend intently, and Razumihin senses that Raskolnikov may be the murderer or, at least, that he has done something terrible.


In Part 4, Chapter 2, the full nature of Luzhin's character is revealed. Raskolnikov was essentially right about him, and, in breaking their engagement, Dounia has dodged a bullet. Luzhin expected Dounia's financial circumstances to make her completely dependent on him, hoping she would worship him as her savior. Luzhin, incapable of admitting fault or seeing anyone else's point of view, blames Raskolnikov for everything.

Raskolnikov hears about Svidrigaïlov's alleged crimes for the first time. The alleged victims are a young deaf and mute girl and a footman, far below Svidrigaïlov in social status and therefore especially vulnerable. If the rumors are true, Svidrigaïlov and Raskolnikov share two similarities: they are criminals whose crimes involve their sense of superiority to their victims.

In Part 4, Chapter 3, Raskolnikov's crime pushes his alienation to the breaking point. On the verge of confessing, he rejects his family and closest friend, his only sources of emotional support. He thinks that his rejection will spare them the consequences of his confession. Of course, he may also be trying to spare himself the shame and possible rejection his loved ones may express once they find out the truth about him.

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